Wimbledon 2013: Slips, shocks and a triumphant Scot – but little sparkle

Many will be expecting this post to be a senseless rant about Andy Murray – my dislike for him over the years is well known. But anyone looking for such childish ignorance will be disappointed; those days are behind me.

Instead I salute the Scotsman who never stood a chance in my own personal preferences for having the audacity to succeed and ultimately exceed the efforts of a player I have and always will greatly admire – Tim Henman.

Yes it’s a silly reason to dislike a player and I wont waste any more of your time trying to defend it. But nevertheless Murray’s success has, in its own way highlighted the short-sightedness of the countless Henman-haters so quick to berate and belittle a player who achieved so much with a shred of the talent Murray possesses.

There, now we can move on! Although comments are welcome as I like nothing more than debates such as this.

Draws delivered

The last fortnight has seen some fine tennis and high drama in all competitions, but it was one of countless shocks, surprises and one too many slips on the green stuff. Yet, as I witnessed first hand in my seventh year visiting SW19 (with the usual eclectic and excellent company, you know who you are!) – as the big names tumbled – and boy did they! – the latter stages lacked the quality usually representative of the pinnacle of tennis.

Some would argue that in both cases we had the final showdown’s everyone wanted.

On the men’s side, the top two seeds and subsequently the most in-form players right now, with the women’s contest – anything but a Serena saunter over her fellow top-tenners would’ve done.

On paper everything came good, but delve just a little into how the fortnight unfolded to this coveted outcome and cracks appear as quickly as the big names fell.

Madness of the opening days

With first the not-so-shocking defeat of an unprepared Nadal at the lithe hands of journeyman Darcis on Day 1 (other notables who joined the Spaniard included Errani, Tipsarevic and Wawrinka – unlucky to face a swansonging Hewitt) and then Kirilenko, Petrova, Querrey and Simon following the next day it was soon WTF-Wednesday where chaos ruled.

The incredible list of talent read thus:

Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,  Marin Čilić ,  John Isner ,  Julien Benneteau, Llleyton Hewitt, Victoria Azarenka,  Maria Sharapova,  Caroline Wozniacki,  Ana Ivanovic,  Jelena Janković,  Sorana Cîrstea,  Lucie Šafářová.

As me and my fellow visitors quickly discovered, anyone trying to plan court-hopping that day were royally stumped at every turn, whispers of a mass food poisoning or severe bug seemed wholly probable such was the mass exodus both on and off the courts.

Gracious Serena slain by Sabine

Yet, whilst such early exits for Rafa, Roger, Maria and Vika are shocking and in many ways sad to see, nothing rivaled the exit of one Serena Williams in the fourth round for gob smacking surprise.

Her conqueror, the smiley Sabine Lisicki continued her Wimbledon love affair (by way of defeating a French Open champion for the fourth time) to an almost fairytale end and capturing the hearts of the nation en route.

Such has been Williams’ dominance of the WTA tour over the last 12 months – this loss was simply unthinkable, yet the American was graciously speedy in reminding the all-too-often hopeless British press that Lisicki was a dangerous and highly talented opponent and not to be treated as some journeywoman.

Bartoli holds her nerve (and her serve) as clout gives way to craft.

The void left by Williams provided some refreshing tennis in the women’s competiton, where guile, variation and volleys returned to their spiritual surface in place of power delivered with a grunt from the baseline. Li Na, Kirsten Flipkens and the wily but perhaps underpowered Radwanska serving up some of the matches of the tournament. Yet it was the eventual victor, the delightfully unique Marion Bartoli executing effective if unconventional grass court tennis who delivered most of all. Runner-up Lisicki crumbled at the final hurdle against an opponent who had been there before, a shame really given the German’s heroics and substantially more challenging draw.

Murray ends the wait after Del Potro epic leaves Djokovic spent

With the men’s competition there was still plenty of household names left, but here the tennis would remain staunchly a product of the modern generation where athleticism and not aggressive shot-making would prove most effective.

As the efforts of Kubot, Ferrer, Haas, Youzhny, Verdasco, Janowicz and eventually Del Potro were extinguished, during which some spellbinding shot-making was produced the pivotal men’s final had arrived. That the match itself was something of a damp squib in pure spectacle and in terms of quality will matter little to the masses.

In a draw that had become weakened to an incredible degree the Scot still had to deal with the hot-bed of hype and expectation and did so supremely. There were wobbles of course and flashes of the old petulance, but it was clear that this was Andy’s year. Djokovic played a poor final never hitting his stride and may well take time to recover.

Match of the tournament – Dkokovic vs Del Potro

Such drama and such quality throughout, time and again the battered and bruised Agentine tested his elastic opponent when all seemed lost – a classic.

*notable mentions Lisicki vs Radwanska, Li vs Radwanksa, Flipkens vs Kvitova, Murray vs Verdasco, Stakhovsky vs Federer

Wimbledon 2013 Winners

Andy Murray – With a self believe and somehow even more improved movement, this was never really in doubt. The draw only made things more certain.

Juan Martin Del Potro – Heroic stuff all fortnight from the 100mph+ producing Argentine who thrilled the purists if not the populous

Sergei Stakhovsky, – Wrongfully quoted to have insulted Federer with the ‘ego’ comment, Stakhovsy’s perfect serve and volle game was a beautiful snapshot of a shunned style of play no longer relevant amidst the power of today.

Lleyton Hewitt – For nothing else but delivering one final love letter to his fans (myself included) with a final masterclass on No. 1 Court against Wawrinka.

Bob and Mike Bryan – The Golden Slam completed over the brave Dodig and Mello – the greatest doubles team in the history of the game can make it a calendar slam to boot in New York later in the year.

Jerzy Janowicz – Brave stuff for the likeable Pole who delivered finesse, charm and humility as well as that monstrous serve

Marion Bartoli – An oddball, a curio and a talent. From nowhere the underperforming Frenchwoman ensured the shocks continued right up until the final day of the womens contest. Vive variety!

Sabine Lisicki – Her smiles and tears will endure as a lasting image of the Championships – matched only by her brutal baseline play that was as faultless as her demeanor. Her final performance will. hurt however.

Kirsten Flipkens – In a similar vein to Lisicki, the Belgian – whislt owning a completely different style of play – injected grace and guile only to crumble when it mattered most.

Laura Robson – Like Bartoli, the Brit would make a mockery of her 2013 form and go on a run here. Unlike Marion, Robson is yet at her peak and will come back stronger one hopes.

Wimbledon 2013 losers

Rafael Nadal – Should the Spaniard quit playing on grass as so many lovers of the red-stuff have before him?

Roger Federer – Truly the beginning of the end for this dynasty, but chances of leaving on a high look slim for the Swiss despite his promise of ‘many more years’ at SW19.

Maria Sharapova – A dud for Masha – the future once again looks uncertain.

Victoria, Azarenka – See above

Serena Williams – With Venus missing the younger sibling looked lost at times, a huge test of resolve to recover.

BBC – With the exception of messeurs Inverdale, McEnroe, Austin, Davenport and Henman (just) this was another hopelessly biased, pandering and at times, shamefully jingoistic coverage. Foreign players – especially those outside of the top ten were treated like nobody’s and often overshadowed in wake of Murraymania or – worse some other insignificant British ‘triumph’ pathetic.

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